Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Prehistory Sites & Museums in Sardinia

Sardinia has been settled by early members of the human species since at least 500,000 years ago.  Since then people lived a hunter- gatherer way of life up until 10,000 years ago. Shortly after this, around 6000 BC, farming was introduced to the island, along with new traditions such as pottery, beautiful carved figures, and megalithic structures and rock cut tombs, the Domus de Janus. At around 3500 BC people start to make metals, copper to begin with then Bronze. Museums around Sardinia display these prehistoric artefacts recovered from archaeological excavations.  While a number of the rock cut tombs and megalithic sites, dolmens and stone circles are accessible.  

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Prehistory Sites in Sardinia

Biru'e Concas Archaeological Park

It houses the highest concentration of menhirs in the Mediterranean area, with around 200 monoliths scattered throughout the park. The menhirs, almost all of simple type without any anthropomorphic character, date back to a period between the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. At the time of its discovery, almost no stones were found in their original position, but most were found split or lying on the ground, perhaps due to the evangelisation work ordered by Pope Gregory the Great, which included the island towards the end of the 6th century AD. The site is free to visit and allows visitors to rediscover the works of the pre-Nuragic and Nuragic civilisation, where traces of an ancient megalithic wall and a nuraghe also remain.

Domus de Janas S'incantu - Necropolis of Monte Siseri

Those who visit it are confronted with one of the highlights of Neolithic art in Sardinia and beyond. It is called ‘s’Incantu’, which literally means ‘the enchantment’, because of the mood it arouses. It is carved into the rock, dating from between 3200 and 2600 BC, with a corridor leading to a small atrium, followed by the central cell and side cells, used for the deposition of the dead. Each corner has engravings related to the funerary world, such as false doors, taurine protomes, and concentric circles engraved on the floor. The site, with free entry, is difficult to reach because of signposting, but visitors who manage to find it will certainly not be disappointed.

Elephant's Rock, Castelsardo

Right on the edge of State Road 134, which connects Castelsardo to Sedini, there is a large boulder that has eroded over time and now looks very much like an elephant, complete with trunk. Its appearance is not its only peculiarity since inside the rock are two domus de janas, one older and partly collapsed, the other more recent and explorable. The bovine head with horns carved in relief on the wall of the chamber, the visitable one, dates to the first half of the 3rd millennium. Visiting it is easy, as there is a roadside place to pull over and walk a few metres to the rock, which you will not miss.

Mount d'Accoddi

The complex represents a unique case, both in Europe and in the Mediterranean area. It was built over 5,000 years ago, between 4000 and 3200 BC, and is currently the only type of sacred building with forms similar to those of the Mesopotamian Ziqqurat, discovered in the 1950s. After paying the ticket, the ruins of the temple are located on a plain in open country, formed by terraces on several levels in the shape of a truncated cone, with a long ramp leading up to the top, presumably the most sacred point. Around the area, interesting artefacts of the pre-Nuragic civilisation survive, such as a menhir, a large stone table thought to have been used for votive offerings, as well as the remains of a village.

Necropolis of Anghelu Ruju

One of the most important prehistoric necropolises in northern Sardinia is about 7 km outside Alghero. The area was discovered by chance in 1903 and but not fully explored until later in 1967. Due to the numerous significant finds, it was possible to date the site  to between 4200 BC and 1800 BC. It was reused several times by different cultures. There are 38 domus de janas, the oldest with a shaft entrance and the most recent with a corridor entrance; some are decorated with elements inspired by dwellings, others with religious symbolism, such as taurine horns. During the visit, moving around the area as you wish, you will have the opportunity to explore the interior of the site’s most famous tombs.

Necropolis of Sant'Andrea Priu

One of the most fascinating sites of the pre-Nuragic period in Sardinia, where prehistory unintentionally merges with Christian art. The necropolis, consisting of 20 hypogea excavated within the rocky bank, dates between 3200 and 2850 BC. Of all the tombs, the famous Tomb of the Chief certainly stands out. In terms of size, it is one of the largest in the entire Mediterranean area, with a surface area of 250 square metres and 18 rooms following one another. The Christians reused it as a church, plastering and frescoing it several times between the 4th and 6th centuries AD, and today it is still possible to see part of the decorations, in a unique mix of prehistory and Christian art.

Necropolis of Su Crucifissu Mannu

At a short distance from Porto Torres, a necropolis was excavated between the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, reused at least until 1500 BC. It consists of 22 domus de janas excavated in the limestone rock, some with shaft entrances and others with corridor entrances adorned with various symbolic elements. On the surface of the rocky terrain, there are numerous signs of carts dating back to the Roman period, which probably transported the stone blocks for the construction of the nearby Turris Libisonis. With free access, the archaeological site will give you an incredible feeling of exploration in search of the hypogea scattered in the area.

Prehistory in Museums of Sardinia

Archaeological and Palaeobotanical Museum of Perfugas

The museum, founded in 1988, exhibits the most significant archaeological and palaeobotanical finds from Anglona, a historical region in Northern Sardinia that overlooks the Gulf of Asinara. Within five sections, dedicated respectively to palaeobotany, the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic, the Nuragic period, and the Classical and Medieval periods, the environmental and human history of the territory is exhibited. Starting from the plant fossils returned from the petrified forests, you can see finds of the first human habitation dating back to the Lower Palaeolithic, admire the magnificent statuette of a Mother Goddess with a child from the Middle Neolithic, and precious artefacts from the Nuragic and Roman periods.

Archaeological Museum, Alghero

Inaugurated on 22 December 2016 inside a historic building dating from the 15th-16th centuries, the museum displays a vast array of objects relating to the history of Alghero and its surroundings. The exhibition plan, which is extremely clear and well marked, is structured around three thematic areas: the sea, ways of living, and the world of the sacred. The finds come from marine, settlement and sacred-funeral contexts, covering an age from the ancient Neolithic to the 17th century AD. Some of the reconstructions of the excavation contexts inside the museum are incredibly engaging, such as that of one of the rooms of the Roman villa of Sant’Imbenia, recomposed inside with the colourful and precious marbles that adorned it.

Civic Archaeological Museum of Cabras

The Museo Civico “Giovanni Marongiu” – Cabras opened in 1997 exhibiting the local history of the Cabras municipality (including the Sinis Peninsular), from prehistory to medieval times. Artefacts come from Neolithic, Nuragic, Phoenician-Punic, Roman and medieval sites in the area. Two notable displays include the Roman shipwreck of Mal di Ventre, dated to the 1st century BC, and a small collection of the large stone statues, the ‘Sardinian Giants’, recovered by archaeologists at the Nuragic necropolis of Mont’e Prama.

Menhir Museum, Laconi

Since 2010 the museum has been housed in the Aymerich Palace, built in 1846 to a design by the Cagliaritan architect Gaetano Cima. Undoubtedly one of the most interesting museums on the island, 44 menhirs from the territory of Laconi and the province of Oristano are on permanent display. Following a tour of 11 galleries, the visitor traces the evolution of this phenomenon, which from simple shapes, goes on to represent complex symbols and anthropomorphic characters. Many statues represent engraved ‘upside-down’ and ‘dagger’ signs, expressions of a complex society to which the museum gives voice.

National Archaeological Museum, Cagliari

Given the quantity of objects from all over the island, this museum is certainly the most important in Sardinia. Since 1993 it has occupied one of the buildings in a complex known as the ‘Citadel of Museums’, built within the district of Castello, reusing the space of the ancient medieval walls. It houses more than 4,000 objects that tell 7,000 years of history, ranging from Prehistory to the Early Middle Ages, in an itinerary that is divided over 4 floors, each with different themes. In the collections visitors can admire statuettes of the mother goddesses, Nuragic bronze statues, a large part of the Nuragic giant statues of Mont’e Prama, as well as Punic and Phoenician jewellery and Roman statuary.

National Museum Giovanni Antonio Sanna, Sassari

Sassari has one of the most important museums in northern Sardinia, by virtue of its diverse collections and the numerous exhibits that have enriched its showcases over the years. It was initially built in 1878 to house the collection of antiquities that belonged to an industrialist and politician from Sassari from whom the museum takes its name. In 1932 the present site was built, and now housing some of Sardinian history’s most representative artefacts, starting with those from the Palaeolithic period, dating back 500 thousand years. A large room is dedicated to artefacts from the Nuragic period, in which the characteristic figured bronzes are displayed. The last part of the exhibition is dedicated to the Roman and early medieval period, with numerous artefacts from the nearby site of Turris Libisonis.

Villa Sulcis Archaeological Museum

Opened in 2008, the museum aims to tell the story of the Sulcis territory by exhibiting important artefacts, found in various archaeological sites. The tour begins by recounting prehistory and protohistory starting from 6000 BC, analysing the evolution of society from that time onwards. Particular attention is paid to the Nuragic civilisation, and Phoenician artefacts, to which a room is dedicated with material from Sant’Antioco-Sulky and Bitia. Another room is dedicated to the Phoenician-Punic centre of Monte Sirai, in which, in addition to the artefacts, reconstructions of a kitchen, burials, and tophet are proposed. The experience is certainly educational, and allows visitors to fully understand the identity of the area.